The backstory here is that my dad set out to create his idea of the “perfect pancake.” After much experimenting, he settled on a methodology for making light, airy pancakes that absorbed syrup like a sponge. I say “methodology” because my dad (still) cooks entirely by taste, touch, sight and smell. None of his recipes are proper recipes. All of them were learned by watching over his shoulder.

The closest my siblings and I got to a proper recipe was the one for these pancakes. And even then, it was still really just a “use this,” “do that,” “watch for this” situation. I was the one who took the time, through trial and error, to figure out the ratios and to actually write this out as a proper recipe. I also tweaked things to fix some perceived (on my part) errors in my dad’s original methodology. So while all credit to my dad for the “idea,” I am calling the “recipe” my own!

Yield: As written, this recipe will make 12 plate-size pancakes. Use these ratios to double or triple the recipe: 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of buttermilk and 2 eggs per 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.


  • 3 cups buttermilk

  • ½ tablespoon baking soda

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 1/2 cups flour, more for cakier pancakes, and less for thinner pancakes


  1. The night before, make the buttermilk mixture. Pour buttermilk into a container with an airtight lid. Add the baking soda. Make sure to leave room for air, approximately a quarter of the container. Screw on the lid and give it a good shake. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: Forgot to do this step the night before? Just do it first and let it sit as long as you can.

  1. Heat the griddle to low-medium heat.

  2. In two bowls, separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until just starting to stiffen. Aim for the consistency of heavy cream. Add vanilla to the egg yolks and beat to add some air.

  3. Add yolks into the whites and gently whisk together.

  4. Slowly and gently unscrew the lid on the buttermilk. There will be a lot of CO2 gas in the top, and you will hear the hiss of the escaping gas as you remove the lid. DO SO SLOWLY. If you unscrew the lid too fast, you run the risk of the liquid exploding everywhere. Usually the mixture starts to bubble, so do this part over the bowl. Add the mixture to the bowl and gently whisk together.

  5. Sift flour into mixture. Gently whisk to incorporate.

Note: Here is a tweak I made to my dad’s recipe. When he just added flour, the flour stayed in chunks and actually got caught in the batter’s gas bubbles, leaving flour balls in the pancakes. I SIFT the flour into the batter, which allows me to more easily stir it. This eliminates the chunky flour issue!

  1. Brush the griddle with butter and ladle batter onto the hot griddle. Cook to desired doneness, flipping halfway through. I brush the flipped side with more butter.

  2. Serve immediately with warm maple syrup, or place in the oven at low heat (200 F).

Timing note: The pancake batter is going to have a lot of gas in it from the egg whites and the buttermilk/baking soda. The harder you whisk and the longer the batter sits uncooked, the more gas will escape. You will want to cycle through all the batter in one sitting. You will actually notice that the last bit of batter has thinned out somewhat. This is expected, but the last pancakes still taste great even if they lack a little bit of the airiness the rest had.

Holiday tip: You can make the pancakes in different sized circles, plate as a snowman and add fruit and chocolate chips for eyes and buttons.

Tastes of Tradition

Try more Schildknecht family favorites to create your own decadent holiday memories.